shopping Frankincense - two varieties
Frankincense tears image
[ 1295 ]Boswellia carteri

Frankincense Tears Pieces

1/4 Pound:  $5.23 Pound:  $11.63 
Frankincense tears, powder image
[ 311 ]Boswellia carteri

Frankincense Tears Powder

1/4 Pound:  $8.76 Pound:  $19.47 
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Wholesale Frankincense

Boswellia carteri
plant overview
warmly-scented frankincense

Frankincense is the aromatic resin harvested from Boswellia trees that are found throughout India, East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Aside from the Biblical reference of the Three Wise Men, who brought frankincense, myrrh and gold to the infant Jesus, this resin has been used as incense for centuries. It was also once commonly used in cosmetics. In fact, charred frankincense provided the kohl that Cleopatra used to highlight her eyes, what we might consider the forerunner of modern eye liner.

Clicking "learn more" next to each variety will take you to individual product pages for details.

A Bit of Botany

a little botanical information on frankincense

Frankincense is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, particularly Boswellia thurifera, B. carteri, B.sacra, B. frereana and B. bhaw-dajiana, all of the Burseraceae family.

Boswellia plants are moderate-sized flowering plants, including both trees and shrubs. The plants are dioecious. The flowers may have 4-5 faintly connate but imbricate sepals with an equal number of distinct, imbricate petals. Also, the stamens, that may contain nectar discs, have distinct glabrous filaments that come in 1-2 whorls and in numbers equaling or twice the number of petals; the tricolporate pollen is contained within 2 locules of the anthers that open longitudinally along slits. The gynoecium contains 3-5 connate carpels, one style, and one stigma that is head-like to lobed. Each locule of the superior ovary has 2 ovules with axile placentation that are anatropous to campylotropous. The 1-5 pitted fruit is a drupe that opens at maturity. The endosperm is usually lacking in the embryo.

common names & nomenclature
The English word Frankincense is derived from old French franc encens (i.e. high quality incense).

Also known as:
frankincense tears, frankincense, olibanum

Frankincense, the warmly-scented aromatic resin

Where in the World

habitat and range for frankincense

Frankincense comes from trees that are native to Arabia, India and northern Africa.

Cultivation & Harvesting

considerations for growing and harvesting frankincense

Boswellia trees grow in low evergreen tropical forests, laurel forests, tropical and subtropical mountain rainforests but also in tropical mountain cloud forests in high humidity.

Boswellia trees grow best in a fast-draining sandy soil that retains water but does not stay saturated. Good drainage is essential for these plants.

Boswellia seeds are best to germinate in the spring, however, within a controlled environment; they will germinate any time of year. To germinate the seeds, it is best to use a well-drained soil and set the seeds on top of the soil with pumice to cover the seeds. The soil must be kept moist at all times until the seeds germinate. The key to successfully germinating these seeds is high humidity and high temperature (90 degrees and higher). The germination rate of Boswellia seeds in cultivation is between 0 to 8%, a very poor germination rate.

Frankincense is tapped from the scraggly but hardy trees by slashing the bark, which is called striping, and allowing the exuded resin to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called Frankincense tears. It takes about 8–10 years for a tree to be ready to produce resin.

The season for gathering lasts from May till the middle of September, when the first shower of rain puts a close to the gathering for that year.

The dried frankincense tears should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

The Rest of the Story

frankincense history, folklore, literature & more

Frankincense tears are beads of dried resin collected from the bark of Boswellia, a genus of small trees that take up to a decade to reach maturity and produce sap. Several species of Boswellia produce frankincense resin, the grade of which is affected by soil and climate conditions and when it is harvested. To extract the resin, the bark is slashed at 4 to 6 month intervals during the year. As the sap “bleeds,” it is permitted to flow freely so that it hardens into bead-like formations when exposed to the air.

Fragrance quality is determined by the resin’s terpene content, which tends to higher in the later taps of the harvest season and in trees found thriving in challenging environments. For instance, Dhofari frankincense, which is obtained from Boswellia sacra that grows in the rocky and dry terrain of east Africa, is considered to be the finest grade. However, Boswellia carteri, another species native to Yemen and Somalia, is the primary source of frankincense tears supplied to the Roman Catholic Church. In India, frankincense resin is tapped from Boswellia serrata.

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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